Lieutenant Governor Judith Guichon to Receive an Honorary Degree from VIU

June 5, 2017 - 10:00am

Her Honour will accept an honorary doctorate of laws during VIU’s June 6 afternoon Convocation ceremony

Vancouver Island University (VIU) will award an honorary degree to one of the institution’s biggest supporters this June.

Lieutenant Governor Judith Guichon has attended VIU’s Convocation ceremonies every year in her official capacity as the representative of the Crown in BC to address graduates. This year is no exception, but she will also receive some extra recognition while she’s here. Guichon will accept an Honorary Doctorate of Laws during VIU’s afternoon Convocation ceremony on June 6. She’s excited because VIU is an institution that reflects values she holds dear.

“I love everything about VIU, it’s just a great school – it’s bright and warm and welcoming,” she says. “One thing that stands out is that when BC post-secondary institutions were challenged to offer a tuition waiver for students who grew up in the care system, VIU was the first to respond. VIU also holds Elders-in-Residence in the same regard as professors, which is so important.”

Dr. Ralph Nilson, VIU President and Vice-Chancellor, says “it is exciting to celebrate someone whose values so closely mirror the University’s.”

“Her Honour is a staunch supporter of many of the values and initiatives that drive VIU, from building respectful relationships with our First Nations partners, to our efforts to ensure access for all who wish to pursue a post-secondary education,” he says. 

From the Nicola Valley region, where she owned and operated Gerard Guichon Ranch Ltd. for many years, Guichon appreciates the role regional universities like VIU play in local economies, in some cases making “all the difference” in terms of allowing rural students to access a post-secondary education. Providing a rural perspective to government was the main reason she accepted the position of Lieutenant Governor.

“There’s an increasing gap in understanding between urban and rural populations,” she says. “Since we both need each other, I thought this was an excellent opportunity for me to bridge that gap. And it was such a wonderful opportunity to learn something new.”

Throughout her term, she’s also raised awareness about the importance of protecting BC’s natural resources.

“Adapting to climate change is going to be one of Canada’s biggest challenges moving forward,” says Guichon. “We’ve been a little slow to get on with it, so we’ll have to work harder. I think it’s a challenge that will bring us all together.”

As a rancher, Guichon focused heavily on environmental conservation. Her and her late husband, commercial pilot Lawrence Guichon, whom she met during a road trip from Montreal to Whitehorse, started studying Holistic Management more than 25 years ago. Holistic Management is a farming method that promotes sustainable management of livestock by emphasizing their natural habitat.

“It allows us to run the cattle without depleting the health of the ecosystem,” she explains. “You look at the land you manage in a holistic way, you have a vision of what you want the land to look like in 100 years. After we adopted Holistic Management, it was sort of like taking your head out of the sand – you can never put it back in.”

Guichon and her husband went on to introduce this farming method to the ranchers of BC and she became active in many community organizations at both the local, regional and provincial levels. She received both the Order of BC and the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012 for her community service.

As Lieutenant Governor, one of her proudest achievements is launching Stewards of the Future, a program for youth that promotes environmental awareness and highlights the importance of biodiversity. Guichon says reconnecting with nature is vital for a healthy society.

“We have to give people a brighter vision of the future, a more positive vision,” she says. “I want to move beyond sustainability to something more vibrant.”

Besides her environmental advocacy efforts, Guichon enjoys carrying out her duties as Lieutenant Governor. She attends hundreds of events every year, often putting thousands of kilometres on the car, in the air or on the sea.

“I’ve got a lot of pins on my map,” she says. “In every valley and community across the province, there’s amazing things to see and people to meet. I’ve met so many amazing British Columbians.”

Guichon’s best advice to VIU graduates, after a lifetime of interesting experiences, is to be open to new opportunities.

“When an opportunity comes along, grab it with both hands and learn everything you can,” says Guichon. “You just never know what opportunities will blossom into wonderful new experiences.”

Guichon will address graduates during the 2:30 pm Convocation ceremony on June 6 at the Port Theatre. Watch live here.



Jenn McGarrigle, Communications Officer, Vancouver Island University

P: 250.740.6559 | C: 250.619.6860 | E: | T: @VIUNews

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